Whales Of Socorro

November 2005

Just after every New Year, Humpback Whales arrive in the Socorro Islands in an annual migration from the cooler waters of Alaska and Canada. Hundreds of them!

Their migration is an epic journey through open ocean and thousands of miles, and yet each year they find the small islands of the Revillagigedos Archipelago (which we commonly call the Socorro Islands, or simply "The Socorros").

Some interesting facts about Humpback Whales:

They are LARGE! Humpbacks mature at about fifteen years of age, and males are 40-42 feet long. Approximately 40 tons or so. Females are a bit larger, averaging 45-46 feet in length. And many of the whales have known the Solmar V since birth, as we're entering our 14th year of exploring the Socorro Islands, and our vessel has been a constant companion during winter months for many of the whales. So it's not uncommon for them to stop by and say hello during morning coffee. 

Their life span is estimated at 45-50 years, and the Humpbacks which come to Socorro for several months each year are there to mate and calve∑ Females typically bear a calf for 11 months, and usually give birth every other year.

Whalers named them "humpbacks" because of the distinctive way they arch their backs just prior to diving. They also have the largest pectoral fins (more than 18 feet long) of any species of whale.

Their courtship and mating rituals are fascinating! Up to fifteen different males will surround a single female, and pose for her! Upside down, sideways, and even at the surface. The largest and most dominant males usually prevail.

The plaintive song of the Humpback Whales is heard on nearly every dive in Socorro during February and March. The song is complex, and once heard, never forgotten. The whales change the song each year for reasons yet to be established by the scientific community.Humpbacks are also noted for breaching , and this is common during Whaling Season in Socorro. As is "spy-hopping", or vertically coming out of the water to take a look at the Solmar V.

Topside encounters are common, and we will often use our tenders to slowly approach groups of whales during our trips at this time of year. One minute you're diving with big animals (including the whales), and during your surface interval or short ride back to the boat suddenly you're just a few feet away from some of the largest animals on earth. All on their terms, their conditions.

But this unusual gathering of some of the world's largest mammals is a welcome addition to our menu of "big animal diving encounters" which include Giant Mantas, Sharks, Whale Sharks, wild schooling dolphins, and other fantastic encounters.

Join us if you can.


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